Readers of CatholicVote already know about billionaire pro-choice globalist George Soros’ $600,000 campaign to distort Pope Francis’s 2015 pastoral visit to the U.S. as a whistle-stop tour for Hillary Clinton. We next learned that Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is one of the sock-puppet front groups that Clinton campaign chair John Podesta hopes to use to overthrow the “middle ages dictatorship” of the papacy and the bishops, and force the Church to embrace “abortion rights.”
There’s a new movement targeting Catholic Millennials, trying to turn them into open-borders socialists who wish to “eradicate” homophobia and transphobia, smash capitalism, and confiscate most private wealth to provide a free income to all comers—even those who decline to work at a job. I have no evidence that Soros or Podesta is backing this movement, but I know that it must make them smile, since it serves their agenda perfectly.
The members of the “Tradinista Collective” (a mash-up of Traditionalist and Sandinista) have staked out outrageous positions, and claimed the mantle of Catholic social teaching for them—threatening to discredit the Church’s witness by yoking it to a blatantly utopian, quasi-totalitarian program.
Members and public supporters of the Tradinista Collective include Ivy League graduates, high-placed staffers at major Catholic apostolates, and employees of major conservative organizations. (No, I won’t “out” them here.) Their “Manifesto” is getting widespread media attention, including flattering coverage by Ross Douthat of the New York Times and Matthew Schmitz of First Things, among others.
The New Liberation Theology
The Tradinistas condemn the freedom philosophy of the American founding, and the market economy that grew from it, bringing prosperity to tens of millions of impoverished immigrants. The Manifesto describes 240 years of America’s religious, political and economic liberties as
the history of the justification of racist and imperialist oppression; of the exploitation and control of wage-labor; of the estrangement of politics from truth, beauty, and goodness; of the corrosion of sound faith. The promises of liberalism [sic]have repeatedly been shown to be empty lies, and we reject them outright. It fails on its own terms as well as ours.
It is the great evil of modern times, the disease spreading its corruption through every part of human social life, the addiction posing as the solution to the problems that it causes.
As I noted at The Stream, to replace what they see as the profoundly corrupt American system, Tradinistas
want to impose a top-down, elitist and paternalist government that quashes economic and intellectual liberty in the name of what they assure us is really the “common good.” They want a guaranteed lifelong paycheck, without the indignity of actually having to work….
To gain these ends, they’re willing to swallow rotted chunks of Marx, to agree with Justice Kennedy that our “liberal” Constitution protects abortion and homosexual marriage, and to align themselves politically with today’s intolerant left. Through it all, they claim to be the true voice of “traditional” Catholicism or Christianity, as opposed to the rest of us who sold out to capitalism or “Americanism.”
Here are just some of the goals laid out by Tradinistas for the bold new society they hope to build on the ruins of the free market and the American Constitution:
- Capitalism must be abolished.
The foundational relation of capitalist society is between those who are compelled to sell their labor-power on pain of destitution and those who, by their ownership of capital, are enabled to exploit the former. Since it is premised on workers’ lack of economic freedom, this structurally-unjust relation must be eliminated; and in doing so, the capitalist class – which serves its own ends, detrimental to the common good of society – will also be done away with. [emphases added]
- Class society must be erased.
Class struggle is a fact of contemporary life and flows directly from the injustices of capitalist society. As Christians, we support the struggle of all oppressed people against the exploitative class war being waged against them.
- Livelihood should not depend on the market.
Markets are not unjust in themselves, but they become vehicles of exploitation when people must sell their labor-power on the market in order to survive. So, while citizens should be free to engage in market exchange, the polity should ensure that no basic needs – food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, etc. – go unmet, guaranteeing a livelihood independent of the market. [So no one must “earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.”]
- Racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and similar forms of oppression must be eradicated.
- Anthropogenic climate change threatens the common good of all mankind, and must be fought.
- We reject nationalism and the nation-state.
- All societies should generously welcome migrants fleeing hardship. [Hence, virtually open borders for all comers, including Muslims who believe in sharia.]
The Tradinistas in subsequent articles have said that they want to establish socialism (a system condemned by five popes, including John XXIII), and called the founder of Communism “Saint Marx.” These ideas are not idle chatter or the fruit of misguided idealism. They are a string of reckless fantasies that cynical radicals have crafted to appeal to the young and unsettled, who see the market economy as a rigged game that offers them no point of entry.
The Church Has the Answer—and it Starts with Freedom
We must do better. We must answer these ideological attempts to hijack the Church’s authority patiently and firmly, relying on reason, natural law, and the lessons of history to show the absurdity of granting the state the vast coercive powers that the Tradinistas hope to wield. In the 20th century alone, as scholar R.J. Rummel has documented, some 262 million people were murdered by their governments—and that does not include casualties of war.
We see every actual socialist society remaining on earth sunk in tyranny and want, from North Korea to Venezuela—with the latter once-prosperous country now devoid of toilet paper, and forcing citizens to pick crops at gunpoint. Five popes have warned us that socialism is completely incompatible with Christianity; Leo XIII called it socialism “a scheme of horrible wickedness.” Liberation Theology, inspired as we now know by the KGB, did little to help the poor in Latin America, but it did discredit the Church in the eyes of millions, and drive them into Protestant churches that actually taught the Gospel. Why on earth would Catholics today heed the siren songs of socialist organizers trying one more backdoor to infiltrate the Church?
For more on the attempts of leftists with hidden agendas to distort and exploit Catholic social teaching, see my new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism—a book endorsed by Fr. C.J. McCloskey, Austin Ruse, Robert Reilly, Samuel Gregg, and other Catholic scholars. In it I expose the logical fallacies and historical distortions of Catholic socialists, and show how they crept in the back door of institutionalized dissent from Church moral teachings. Here’s a little sample:
Many grandchildren of Catholic immigrants to our overwhelmingly Protestant country still clung to the pretense that they were outsiders — excluded and marginalized victims of the existing American establishment. So they felt bound to make common cause with every other “outside” group, regardless of the justice of its claims. This outsider illusion made it easy for them to be right about Civil Rights … and then poisonously wrong about feminism, gay liberation, and socialist economics.
So Catholics who’d once taken part in Freedom Rides for black Americans got swept up in a “Women’s Liberation” movement that sought to dismantle legal definitions of marriage, laws restricting abortion, and finally the traditional family itself. That movement’s greatest success was Roe v. Wade, which gave the U.S. the laxest abortion laws on earth — outside of Communist countries — and resulted in the deaths of more than a million American unborn children every year since 1973. What most people don’t know is that the Kennedy family had helped lay the groundwork for that decision a decade before. As Philip Lawler reports in The Faithful Departed:
In July 1964, several liberal theologians received invitations to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, for a discussion of how a Catholic politician should handle the abortion issue. Notice now that abortion was not a major political issue in 1964. …
The participants in that Hyannisport meeting composed a Who’s Who of liberal theologians, most of them Jesuits… Father Robert Drinan … Father Charles Curran … Father Joseph Fuchs, a Jesuit professor at Rome’s Gregorian… Jesuits Richard McCormack, Albert Jensen, and Giles Milhaven.
For two days the theologians huddled in the Cape Cod resort town as guests of the Kennedys. Eventually they reached a consensus, which they passed along to their political patrons. Abortion, they agreed, could sometimes be morally acceptable as the lesser of two evils. Lawmakers should certainly not encourage abortion, but a blanket prohibition might be more harmful to the common good… (81).
Nine years before the fact, the financial and intellectual elite of American Catholicism were, in Lawler’s words, “waiting for Roe v. Wade.”